Sunday, May 11, 2014

Doctor Who Weekend: Don't Blink!

So I was perusing the Progressive Ruin blog of my good buddy* Mike Sterling.  

*"Good buddy" in the sense that he was the first person to follow me on Twitter and actually commented on a few of my posts. What can I say? The qualifying threshold for being my "good buddy" is pretty damn low. 

He has a monthly feature he does called "The End of Civilization". He's been posting this for several years and so far, civilization has more or less failed to end. But not for lack of trying.  

What  is"The End of Civilization"? It's Mike's monthly review of the Diamond Distribution catalog filled with an upcoming month's listing of comic books, comic book related merchandise and all sorts of stuff for the not so discerning geek. (Reviewing that catalog is actually part of Mike's job as a comic shop manager.)  

Last month he found this little gem of an item. 

Of course, this is for the Doctor Who fan who wants to scare the bejeebers out of TSA employees, bank tellers and, well, pretty much everybody who's not into Doctor Who as well as lot of those who are. 

Really, someone thought it was a good idea to emblazon on the side of a canvas tote bag, "BLINK AND YOU'RE DEAD"?! Really? 

OK, I'm a big Who fan but I'm not going around with a tote bag with a demonic face and a threatening message of "DON'T BLINK" without getting tackled or tasered by security guards and police officers.  

The episode "Blink" holds a special place in the Doctor Who mythos as one of the best episodes EVER yet actually has very little of the Doctor in it.  Most of the action centers around Sally Sparrow, the one off character most demanded by fans to make a return appearance. But since she was portrayed by BTONNGTAODWAMA** Carey Mulligan, that's probably not very likely.  

**BTONNGTAODWAMA = Big Time Oscar Nominated Never Going To Appear On Doctor Who Again Movie Actress

There's a lot about the episode that stands out. 

  • The Doctor's "Time Wimey Detector" that goes "ding" when there's "stuff"

  • The Doctor's message on the DVDs. The warning behind the wallpaper for Sally Sparrow to duck. 

  • The reality twisting loss of her friend Kathy and her letter that took a lifetime...and mere get to Sally. 

  • Sally's own spirit of persistence in the face of an ever spiraling mystery that's pulling in her closer and closer to an important destiny or a dire fate. Or both. 

  • And the Weeping Angels: the creepiest creatures ever in the history of Doctor Who, they are merely statues...except when you're not looking at them. And that whole meta textual ending with the Doctor's repeated warning of "Don't blink" over a montage of real statues in and about real world we live in? Steven Moffat, you are one sick and talented bastard, you are. 

But the part of the story that gets to me the most is Detective Billy Shipton. Oh, he is so immediately smitten with Sally. "Life is short and you are hot." But then the angels zap him back to 1969 and the Doctor is there to give a message to relay to Sally Sparrow and "it's going to take awhile".

Minutes after she left Billy, Sally gets a phone call from him. She finds him in a hospital bed, old and dying after a long life. "Life is long and you're still hot", he says, young Billy's smile peeking out from the ridges of old Billy's face.  As the rain falls outside, Sally promises to stay with Billy. Billy notes he has until the rain stops. A subtle shift in scene shows the rain has stopped and the hospital bed is empty with Sally still sitting by the bed side. 

This is one of the most poignant moments I've ever seen on Doctor Who. Indeed, one of the most emotionally moving scenes I had ever seen in any television show or movie. And it was from a couple of characters who had mere minutes to make us care. And care we did. 

"Blink" is rightfully considered a pinnacle of Doctor Who. Still, it's not an episode I recommend as a first episode as the Doctor's presence is severely limited. But once a new viewer has got a couple of stories down to see how this show works, then by all mean watch "Blink". In many ways, even without the Doctor in a starring role, this episode is the epitome of what Doctor Who is about. 

But really, leave that God awful tote bag at home, OK?

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